STURBRIDGE – With thousands of bicyclists pedaling at sunrise on Saturday in the 38th annual Pan-Mass Challenge – destination Provincetown – their accomplishment will bring to nearly $600 million the money raised in the fight against cancer by this charity organization, since its founding in 1980.
The money is used to fund cutting-edge research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School.
The goal this year is to raise $48 million, up from last year’s $47 million total.
“Funds from the PMC allow Dana-Farber to take on truly innovative and creative approaches to research that would not otherwise be funded. You have to think outside the box and take big steps to get big results – the PMC makes this possible for Dana-Farber,” Dana-Farber President and CEO Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher said.
“Thanks to support from the PMC, we continue to lead the way” in discovering better treatments, and to fund cutting-edge research, she said.
Dr. Glimcher, whose area of expertise is immunology, told the Telegram & Gazette that “immune-based drugs are now approved to treat six types of cancer, including two new FDA approvals in 2016.”
She said that Dana-Farber’s Dr. Catherine Wu recently “reported results from her study that a personal cancer treatment vaccine can produce a safe and very specific anti-tumor response in melanoma patients. This research is truly unique and groundbreaking and it would not be possible without the funds raised each year by the PMC.”
Saturday’s PMC effort invloves 6,200 riders, covering 360 miles of bicycling across 46 communities; 4,000 volunteers, and more than 300,000 gifting to the PMC. About 2,800 bicyclists set off from Sturbridge.
“The money is up, up is good,” said PMC founder and president, Billy Starr, 66.
“When you are getting these olympian numbers, it gets harder to climb that hill,” he said. “We keep upping our game.”
Mr. Starr said the purpose of the charity and the contribution it has made in the fight against cancer “is the payoff, the psychic” renewal.
He said many of the riders are either cancer survivors or have friends and family that have succumbed to the disease or have become ill.
The bond riders feel with each other from sharing stories is as much a part of the PMC experience as the riding, Mr. Starr said.
There are 15 routes for riders to choose from this weekend, the longest being from the Sturbridge Host Hotel to Provincetown, nearly 200 miles.
If this year’s challenge is met, it would bring to $595 million the organization has raised since its founding.
Charitable donations can be made online by visiting PMC.org.